1

Pac-12 basketball: Beavers advance to face Cal

Cal will face Oregon State in the Pac-12 tournament quarterfinal after posting a 75-66 win over Arizona State on Wednesday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The Beavers and Bears meet Thursday at 8:45 p.m.

The Beavers (19-11) jumped out to a 32-23 halftime lead and controlled the Sun Devils (15-17) most of the night.

Stephen Thompson Jr. had 13 points for OSU and Malcolm Duvivier scored 12. Gary Payton II had 10 points, nine rebounds and four steals.

Gerry Blakes scored 20 points for the Sun Devils, who shot just 36.1 percent.

*****

The day’s first three games were serious clunkers:

— Washington 91, Stanford 68: The Cardinal trailed 10-0, 15-2 and 20-3 and was down 24-5 before making its first field goal and things never got better. UW (18-13) led 50-22 at halftime and Stanford (15-15) never got closer than 20 in the second half. Freshman Dejounte Murray scored 25 for UW and Dorian Pickens had 17 for Stanford. UW plays Thursday at 12:10 p.m. against top-seeded Oregon (25-6).

— Colorado 80, Washington State 56: The Buffaloes led 41-22 at halftime and won so easily that no one had to play more than 26 minutes. George King scored 21 points for CU (22-10), which faces No. 4 Arizona (24-7) on Thursday at 2:40 p.m. WSU (9-22) got eight points and 14 rebounds from Josh Hawkinson.

— USC 95, UCLA 71: The Trojans (21-11) enhanced their NCAA tournament resume by crushing their cross-town rivals. It’s the first time since 1954 that USC has beaten the Bruins three times in the same season. Bennie Boatwright scored 19 points for USC, which plays No. 2 seed Utah (24-7) on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. Thomas Welsh scored 12 points for the Bruins (15-17).

 

1

Cal basketball: Red-hot Bears chasing first Pac-12 tournament title

Cal has never won the Pac-12 tournament, but freshman Jaylen Brown doesn’t believe doing so this week at the MGM Grand will require a substantial reboot of the Bears’ approach.

“Every game is win or lose, live or die,” he said. “Same mindset as usual. No need to reinvent the wheel. It’s just basketball.”

If third-seeded Bears (22-9, 12-6) continue to play the way they have the past five weeks, they’ve got a chance. Cal is one of the hottest teams in the conference, having won eight of nine games. The outlier: a 64-61 loss last Thursday at Arizona when the Bears blew an eight-point lead in the final 2 minutes.

The Bears don’t play until Thursday night at 8:30, awaiting the winner of Wednesday’s game between No. 6 seed Oregon State and No. 11 Arizona State.

No. 9 Stanford (15-14, 8-10), hoping to shake off a pair of double-digit defeats last weekend in Arizona, tips off the tournament on Wednesday at noon against No. 8 Washington.

The rest of Wednesday’s schedule: Colorado vs. Washington State, 2:30 p.m.; USC vs. UCLA, 6 p.m.; Oregon State vs. Arizona State, 8:30 p.m.

Here’s a look at each team’s prospects, ranked by seeding:

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7

Cal basketball: Bears earn No. 3 seed in Pac-12 tourney

With its 68-65 victory at Arizona State on Saturday, Cal clinched the No. 3 seed into next week’s Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas.

Click here to read our correspondent’s game story.

The Bears (22-9, 12-6) finished the Pac-12 schedule tied for third place with Arizona, but win the tiebreaker because they posted a 1-1 record vs. regular-season champion Oregon and the Wildcats lost their only meeting vs. the Ducks.

Cal opens Thursday in the quarterfinals against the winner of Wednesday’s first-round game between No. 6 seed Oregon State and No. 11 Arizona State.

PAC-12 CONFERENCE MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
At MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas
Wednesday
First round
No. 8 Washington vs. No. 9 Stanford, noon
No. 5 Colorado vs. No. 12 Washington State, 2:30 p.m.
No. 7 USC vs. No. 10 UCLA, 6 p.m.
No. 6 Oregon State vs. No. 11 Arizona State, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday
Quarterfinals
No. 1 Oregon vs. 8-9 winner, noon
No. 4 Arizona vs. 5-12 winner, 2:30 p.m.
No. 2 Utah vs. 7-10 winner, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Cal vs. 6-11 winner, 8:30 p.m.

Friday
Semifinals at 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Saturday
Championship game, 7 p.m.

0

Cal women’s basketball: Bears upset ASU to advance into Pac-12 tournament semifinals

Shooting a tournament-record 69 percent from the field, the 10th-seeded Cal women advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament after scoring the biggest upset in tournament history, a 75-64 win over Arizona State on Friday at KeyArena in Seattle.

The Bears (15-16), who knocked off No. 7 seed Utah in the first round, used 24 points and 11 rebounds from freshman forward Kristine Anigwe to eliminate the second-seeded Pac-12 co-champion Sun Devils (25-6).  Anigwe made 10 of 11 shots as Cal converted 29 of 42 attempts.

The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Anigwe recorded her 13th double-double of the season.

Penina Davidson came off the bench to score 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting and freshman guard Asha Thomas made 6 of 7 shots on the way to scoring 16 points.

Gabby Green overcame committing 11 of Cal’s 26 turnovers by contributing six points, eight assists and six rebounds.

The Bears, who play third-seeded UCLA (23-7) at 6 p.m. on Saturday, become just the second double-digit seed to advance to the tournament semifinals.

1

Women’s basketball: Bears upend Utah in Pac-12 tourney

It hasn’t been a great season for the Cal women’s basketball team, but the 10th-seeded Bears rode 18 points and 14 points from Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kristine Anigwe to knock off Utah 66-63 in overtime in the opening-round of the Pac-12 tournament at KeyArena in Seattle.

Having dispatched the seventh-seeded Utes, the Bears (14-16) move into Friday’s 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal against Arizona State. The game will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.

Anigwe had her 28th double-digit scoring game in 29 outings and matched her career-best for rebounds.

Courtney Range added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Mikayla Cowling and Penina Davidson each scored 12.

8

Pac-12 basketball: No definitive answer, but AD Williams says he’d like to watch Bears play more games

Interim athletic director Michael Williams would not commit to Cal definitely accepting a potential bid from the College Basketball Invitational, but added he would like to watch coach Cuonzo Martin’s team play a few more games.

Hours after the Bears were eliminated from the Pac-12 tournament with a 73-51 loss to top-seeded Arizona on Thursday, Williams said he has not heard from either the National Invitation Tournament or the CBI.

At 18-15 with a computer power rating of No. 99 as of Thursday morning, Cal likely doesn’t have the resume for an invite to the 32-team NIT. A mock NIT bracket produced Thursday by Bleacher Report projected Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State in the field, along with Saint Mary’s. But not Cal.

The CBI invites 16 teams after the NIT fills its field, but the opportunity comes with a pricetag. Schools must pay fees for each home game they play in the event. In past years, those fees have been $35,000 for a first-round game, $50,000 for quarterfinals, and $75,000 per game for the semifinals and each of the best-of-three championship series.

So while the decision requires some thought, Williams also said, “It’s also not something we would automatically say no to.”

Bids for the NCAA, NIT and CBI tournaments go out Sunday.

“We have not heard from anyone yet. We have just had the normal business contact with the NIT and the CBI,” Williams said. “So we’ll wait and find out on Sunday. I think we’d want to have that conversation.”

Martin praised the efforts of the Bears, who routed Washington State 84-59 in Tuesday’s tournament opener, then stayed close to Arizona for a half before fading.

“Right now I’m just excited about what Cuonzo has done with this team. I’m enjoying watching this team play,” Williams said. “It’d be fun to watch them play a few more games together.

“I’m really not prepared to have David (Kravish) play his last game in a Cal uniform quite yet.”

4

Pac-12 basketball: Arizona game thread

Click here for my game story.

FINAL SCORE: Arizona 73, Cal 51. The Bears were dominated much of the second half and fall to 18-15 on the season. The NIT or, more likely, the College Basketball Invitational, awaits them. Wallace had 19 points. Kravish had 12 rebounds. But Kravish and Jordan Mathews, who combined for 44 points the day before against WSU, totaled just nine on combined 4 for 20 shooting.

7:56 2nd H: Arizona 55, Cal 45. The Cats threatened to put this away, but Cal continues to answer. Bird’s 3-pointer countered one moments earlier by Gabe York and the margin remains 10 points. Cal still winning on the boards, but has 13 turnovers. Wallace has 15 points and Bird has 10. Kravish with 10 rebounds. Johnson leads Arizona with 14 and Ashley has 13.

17:14 2nd H: Arizona 42, Cal 32. A 3-pointer by Stanley Johnson — what can’t he do? — and a fastbreak dunk by Hollis-Jefferson off a careless Cal turnover, and a five-point lead is doubled in the span of 26 seconds. Cal is good in transition. Arizona is scary.

HALFTIME: Arizona 33, Cal 27. There are two ways of looking at this. First, Cal trailed 48-27 at halftime against the Wildcats one week ago today. So this is encouraging for the Bears. They battled and actually outrebounded Arizona 21-19. But the final 2 minutes could have gone better for Cal. With his team down just 30-27, Wallace missed the second of two FTs (Cal was 5 for 8 in the half), and 6-8 Brandon Ashley got isolated down low against 6-3 Jordan Mathews, made the layup, drew the foul and converted the FT for a six-point play. Sam Singer then missed an off-balance jumper and Kravish missed from a couple feet beyond his usual comfort zone. Cal down just six despite shooting 33 percent (10 for 30). Arizona made 47.6 percent (14 for 30). Wallace leads Cal with nine points. Johnson and Ashley each have nine for the Cats.

7:57 1st H: Arizona 21, Cal 17. The Bears are hanging in there. Arizona stretched out to an 18-12 lead with a 10-0 run,  but Cal answered back, including two baskets by Bird. Cal shooting just 35 percent (7 for 20), but has a 14-12 rebounding edge. Wallace has seven points for Cal.

11:48 1st H: Arizona 15, Cal 12. The Bears led 12-8 after a short hook by Kravish and a breakaway dunk by Wallace. But the Cats are coming strong. They have run off 7 straight points, including a monster driving dunk by Hollis-Jefferson. He tried to do the same thing on the next trip down and Bird, attempting to block it, was hit in the face and went to the bench for attention. Crowd is warming up and Cal needs to stem this now or face the consequences. (Bird is back in the lineup).

15:59 1st H: Cal 8, Arizona 6. Three-pointers by Wallace and Mathews helped the Bears overcome three turnovers on their first four possessions. Cal shooting 3 for 6 FG, 2 for 4 from 3-pt. Arizona is 3 for 7.

*****

We’ll give this a try again today after massive internet connection issues Tuesday at the MGM Grand derailed my best efforts.

The top-seeded Arizona team just took the court and the crowd response made it feel like we’re at McKale Center in Tucson. Cal fans are here, but they are greatly outnumbered.

There are so many UofA fans in Vegas that the betting line on this game moved from 16 points to 19 overnight. For all I know, it may still be moving,

Cal (18-14), coming off its 84-59 thrashing of Washington State, will have it hands full in this quarterfinal matchup vs. the Cats. Arizona (28-3) beat the Bears by 39 points one week ago today, and also topped Cal by 23 in Berkeley this season.

But a couple things to consider:

— The No. 1 seed has not won the Pac-12 tournament since 2008, when UCLA did it.

— This one is hard to believe, but Arizona has not won the conference tournament since 2002. Four times since then, the Wildcats have failed to win it as the top seed.

None of that is likely to help Cal and this Arizona team is on a roll, having scored 82 points or more in six of its past eight games.

Enjoy.

*****

STARTING LINEUPS

Cal: David Kravish, Dwight Tarwater, Jordan Mathews, Jabari Bird, Tyrone Wallace.

Arizona: Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Stanley Johnson, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, T.J. McConnell.

6

Pac-12 basketball: Cal demolishes WSU

UPDATED

David Kravish missed his first six shots against Washington State, but rarely missed again as Cal posted a decisive 84-59 victory in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament Wednesday.

Kravish scored a career-high 25 points and the No. 8 seeded Bears (18-14) won for just the second time in the past six games. It was their first victory in three tries since the Pac-12 event was moved to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

“It does a lot for our confidence,” said guard Jabari Bird “We’ve just to go carry it over to the next game.”

That will be Thursday’s 12:10 p.m. quarterfinal game against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3). The nation’s fifth-ranked team, the Wildcats beat Cal twice this season, including by 39 points a week ago in Tucson.

The rematch looks like a mismatch and Pac-12 Networks analyst Don MacLean conceded Cal must play almost a perfect game to upset the Wildcats. But he added, “I think for Cal, if they can duplicate what they did today and be as sharp as they were, they have a chance.”

Kravish made 10 of 11 shots after his early misfirings, and had six field goals during an 11-minute stretch spanning the two halves in which the Bears shot 14 of 15. He scored the go-ahead basket for a 17-16 lead with 7:31 left in the half, and the Bears were in command at 47-30 when Christian Behrens converted a layup with 16:15 left in the game.

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1

Pac-12 basketball: WSU game thread

NOTE: Internet issues at the MGM during the game. My apologies. My early game story posted elsewhere on BearTalk.

*****

I’m here at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament, which tips off at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday with No. 8 seed Cal (17-14, 7-11) facing No. 9 Washington State (13-17, 7-11).

The Cal-WSU winner advances to a Thursday quarterfinal against regular-season champion Arizona (28-3, 16-1), the nation’s fifth-ranked team. That game also will be played at 12:10 p.m.

The rest of today’s schedule:

— No. 5 Arizona State vs. No. 12 USC, 2:40 p.m.

— No. 7 Oregon State vs. No. 10 Colorado, 6:10 p.m.

— No. 6 Stanford vs. No. 11 Washington, 8:40 p.m.

All of today’s games will be aired on the Pac-12 Networks.

A note regarding Thursday’s games: All fans, including those who do not get the Pac-12 Networks, will have free access to viewing the first three quarterfinals via Pac-12.com and the Pac-12 Now app. Those games include Arizona (possibly vs. Cal), UCLA and Oregon. The fourth quarterfinal, featuring Utah (possibly vs. Stanford), will be carried on ESPN.

4

Basketball: Cal, WSU meet for third time

* Cal vs. Washington State, Wednesday, 12:10 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)

By this time of year, conference rivals know each other well.

When Cal (17-14, 7-11) faces Washington State (13-17, 7-11) collide Wednesday in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it will be their third matchup of the season.

Each team has won one of the previous meetings, and their coaches know why.

Cuonzo Martin recalls how WSU’s big-man duo of Josh Hawkinson and Jordan Railey combined for 35 points and 17 rebounds in the Cougars’ 69-66 win at Berkeley on Jan. 4.

WSU coach Ernie Kent said the difference in Cal’s 76-67 win at Pullman on Jan. 29 was simple: Jabari Bird.

Bird was injured and did not play in the first meeting, but his presence – and his 12 points and eight rebounds – gave Cal an edge in the rematch by freeing Tyrone Wallace from double-team tactics. Wallace responded by scoring 26 points on 10-for-17 shooting.

“We had no answers for the second time we saw him. A lot of that had to do with Jabari being on the floor,” Kent said. “We’ve got to figure some things out to get him slowed down.”

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